Reinventing Your Art Career with Ali Cavanaugh (ep. 189)

In 2014, Ali Cavanaugh had 11 galleries representing her work throughout the U.S. and even overseas.

It was all she could do to paint fast enough to supply these galleries with new work.

Ali Cavanaugh fresco
©Ali Cavanaugh, evermore. Modern fresco, 8 x 10 inches

What a great problem to have, right? But something wasn’t sitting right with Ali, so she started asking the galleries to return her work.

One by one the galleries returned the few paintings that remained in their inventories.

There was no animosity. Ali greatly appreciated all the work the galleries did on her behalf, but she was no longer satisfied with the status quo.

She had begun to reconsider not just what her business model looked like, but the art itself.

Listen

In this encore episode of The Art Biz from 2019, you’ll hear about:

  • Why galleries weren’t interested in work behind glass.
  • How Ali took 6 months to teach herself a new watercolor technique and why it was important to do this.
  • How Ali used her blog to attract press coverage and interest from galleries.
  • How Ali has expanded her audience using social media.
  • Ali’s philosophy of the artist’s journey and micro-evolution.
  • Why it’s critical to challenge yourself as an artist.
  • Why Instagram is the perfect platform for getting affirmation for your work.
  • The reason Ali pulled her art from galleries and what happened to those 25 pieces.
  • How Ali began raising her prices and why art fairs were the best venue for the new prices.
  • Ali’s monograph that was published by Unicorn Publishing in 2019.
  • Details of Ali’s intention to renovate a property in the small town of St. Genevieve, Missouri.
  • Ali’s upcoming plans for Patreon.
Stay tuned for follow-up episode 190 to see how Ali’s life and work have evolved since this interview.
Ali Cavanaugh studio table
Ali's studio table

Ali Cavanaugh Quotes

“Your art can get really boring or anything that you do can get really boring if you're not adding those challenges and you don't have a teacher to give you the incitement, so you have to do it some way.”

“I have deep, devout relationship with God. And that that's what works for me—and through prayer. He just helps me all through all the stages of my work.”

“I'm not feeling it here. I'm just not challenged. I need to do something different with a watercolor.”

“My point is there that you don't have to be in Santa Fe. You don't have to be in New York.”

About My Guest

Ali Cavanaugh studied painting at the Kendall College of Art and Design and the New York Studio Residency Program in New York City, earning a BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design in 1995.

At the age of 22, she co-founded an atelier—The New School Academy of Fine Art—in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2001. It was during her six years in Santa Fe that she developed her modern fresco process on kaolin clay. 

Ali working in the studio. Photo credit: Fred Lynch

Her paintings have been the subject of numerous national and international solo and group exhibitions. Cavanaugh's  paintings have been featured on book covers, countless internet features such as the Huffington Post, Fine Art ConnoisseurArtsy and in numerous print publications including The New York Times Magazine, American Art CollectorAmerican Artist Watercolor.

She has painted portraits for TIME magazine and The New York Times. Her work is featured in more than 400 private and corporate collections throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. She currently lives in St Louis, Missouri.

In 2019, the gorgeous monograph Ali Cavanaugh: Modern Fresco Paintings was published. It is now a collector's item.

Follow Ali on Instagram: @_alicavanaugh_

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